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Sister act: 'God kept providing in amazing ways'

Travelling folk/soul duo Daughters of Davis tell Russ Bravo about their music, faith and life on the road …

Travelling folk/soul duo Daughters of Davis tell RUSS BRAVO about their music, faith and life on the road …

A musical odyssey which started under a bridge in Guildford has taken sisters Adrienne and Fern Davis across the UK and Europe over the last few years, via a rusty van (now replaced) – and too many tins of 17p soup.

And following the release of their second album British Soul last autumn, and some Radio 2 airplay, exciting new possibilities are opening up.

Growing up in Winchester, Hampshire, in a Christian family, music was part of the girls’ lives from an early age but playing as an acoustic duo almost happened by accident.

Fern explains: “Being sisters we were always in bands together as singers, but it was hard keeping bands together so we thought we’d stick to the two of us.

“Neither of us played instruments but Adrienne started teaching herself the guitar. We were jamming down by the river in Guildford under a canal bridge, and the manager of a nearby pub heard us and booked us for a gig. We ended up doing a residency there.”

By 2011 the pair were finding it hard to fit gigs in round the rest of their lives: Fern had left a course at Winchester School of Art to study music in Guildford, while Adrienne was training in occupational therapy.

Adrienne continues: “Coming in late after gigs and getting up early for work it was getting too much. Fern said ‘we should quit all this, get a van and hit the road’. So we sold my car, did house painting and car boot sales to get money together and ended up going to St Austell to pick up a van we bought on eBay!”

“Friends and family thought we were crazy,” chips in Fern. “I remember praying with Adrienne and saying ‘if God wants it to happen then he will open the doors’ – and God kept swinging the doors open!”

And the road trip began for Daughters of Davis: travelling the country, writing on the road, sleeping in the van, surviving on porridge and 17p tins of soup, and gigging wherever they could.

“It was a bit hand to mouth – we’d be busking in the street for petrol money and dinner,” says Fern. “I remember in Camden once we desperately wanted a Chinese meal and said ‘right, let’s busk!’ It was the most victorious Chinese supper we’ve ever had. God kept providing in amazing ways.”

Both have had their faith tested out on the road: “God says he will save us and keep us safe and he is there for us, like the time we were broken into at 3am in the morning. We managed to drive away and actually experienced God keeping his promise like he says in the Bible. Our faith really grew as we saw God providing for us.”

Strong support and encouragement from their parents helped them keep going when things were tough, and it was at a particular low point that the next breakthrough came.

“We had a gig in Manchester and had been invited to a meeting with a music management company,” recalls Adrienne. “Fern was really upset with life in the van and ketchup for dinner, but we decided to go to the meeting and think about things after that.

“We’d been let down before but we got on really well with Andy and Storm5 management, and we ended up recording our first album Into The Water with them, and the whole team has been brilliant.”

Since teaming up with Storm5, Daughters of Davis have made great progress, going on tour in Europe supporting artists like Rebecca Ferguson, and Eels; recording and releasing their second album British Soul (see Giveaways on Page 26 to win a copy) and getting played on BBC Radio 2 and local BBC stations. Plus they have a new tour van sponsored by Elddis!

Fern and Adrienne write from the heart, and their upbeat, soulful music zings with the sisters’ passion and love of life, shot through with a mature faith that has seen God help them pursue their dreams.

Plans this year – as well as Fern getting married – include a concept EP with songs looking at true beauty and strength, aimed at helping young people grappling with self-image issues – “God is putting things on our hearts that we have to sing about”. Watch out for #notplayingthegame on social media.

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